Custom Residential Architects Network

Michigan Loft

Quick Links

Who we are

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN®) Knowledge Community develops knowledge and information to benefit architects who are engaged in, or who are interested in learning more about, custom residential practice. CRAN® presents information and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and expertise to promote the professional development of its  members via discussion forums, national symposia and conventions, publications, and local activities.

AIA Small Firm Exchange Survey

  • 1.  AIA Small Firm Exchange Survey

    Posted 11-19-2017 00:41


    AIA SFX SURVEY – 2017


    The 2017 Small Firm Business Models Survey Dashboard is now available at:


    When you open the above link, after reading my lovely introductory letter, click on one of the tables above the AIA / SFx Red circle & logo.  Select one and, when that portion of the dashboard appears, hover your mouse over any item for a pop-up with more detailed information.  Then inside the upper red box, select the "FILTER BY" to change the variables to specific items you would like a closer look into profile results.  Ex. Set the Firm Size, Business Plan, etc. to match that of your own firm and see how you stack up.  Then modify one or more of the filter variables to see if a change would improve your profile results.



    The Small Firm Exchange (SFx) of the AIA has been exploring the question of which business models are most appropriate to sustain the practice of architecture for small firms.   The attached survey represents only a fraction of the results coming out of this focus.  Continued efforts promise more detailed information, case studies, and recommendations to follow in the coming year.  Many thanks go to the two AIA Knowledge Communities of Custom Residential Architect's Network (CRAN), and Small Project Practitioners (SPP) for their support and encouragement of the survey.  Special thanks also go to Amanda Babin, a recent LSU graduate in IT, for her countless hours of technical expertise, advice, data analysis, and production of both the 2016 and 2017 Small Firm Business Models Surveys.


    History: The AIA had been wrestling with the definition of a small firm for many years, and in 2005 assembled a Special Task Force assigned with defining a small firm, and how many staff are required to be considered Mid-Sized or Large.  For sole practitioners, the definition was obvious.  Single person firms can be defined as small.   Also, for organizations with 100 or more staff, it seemed clear that these could be defined as large. But what to label all of those AIA firms with staff between two and 99.  Were they large or small?  Wounded pride, and a perceived avoidance of the stigma related to being labeled "small" seemed to dominate the discussions. The only conclusion our group could agree upon was that for firms somewhere between 2 and 99, being small or large was "a state of mind". 


    More recently, with the founding of the AIA Small Firm Roundtable, (Now known as the Small Firm Exchange, or SFx), the definition of Small has been defined as any firm with 10 or less employees. 


    Considering one's own practice, the label of size is really an irrelevant measure as to the type, size, or quality of work resulting from the professional effort.   So is there really any benefit in labeling organizations small or large?  As it turns out, yes.  All firms are business entities, each following a business plan of one form or another. Our study is an attempt on identifying characteristics of business plans, and specifically, which have proven to be more economically sustainable (re: profitable) than others.  The SFx presumption is that, armed with this sort of information, principals could theoretically compare the workings of their own firms with those of similarly sized firms in the same business, and explore which statistical patterns to emulate.


    Here's wishing you and your Small Firm practice of architecture a prosperous and sustainable future.  Enjoy surfing the dashboard!



    Kevin Harris, FAIA



    Kevin Harris FAIA
    Kevin Harris Architect, LLC
    Baton Rouge LA
    Learn more about this seminar series